Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From the Rookie Tournament to Training Camp

A look at the final Rookie Tournament game as well as what the weekend leaves the rookies to be proud of, Alfie is ready along with all his teammates, a disturbing lack of faith in our rebuilt team, and the final roster for Training Camp which will begin today.

From the Ottawa Senators' website, a quick review of yesterday's Rookie Tournament game. The Sens fought hard but fell to Pittsburgh 3-1. Both teams finished with two wins and a loss, but I believe Pittsburgh had a better goal differential.

The Ottawa Sun and the Ottawa Citizen take a look at the rookies' performances this weekend. No doubt that the top rookies, Elliot, Nikulin, Zubov, and Winchester gave notice that they intend to compete hard this season, hopefully regardless of which roster they make. O'Brien, Regin, and Karlsson were not as high up on the radar, but all impressed nonetheless, and in a few years they should start to have a serious impact in Binghamton or maybe even in Ottawa.

The Ottawa Citizen, the Ottawa Sun, and TSN all report that Alfie and the team are ready to get the season started. It's certainly shocking to think that only a few years ago, Alfie was almost ready to call it quits. The fact that the long summer has helped to make him feel as healthy and rested as he's been in years, and this should indeed be a season to watch the team. Yes, everyone's optimistic this time of year, but I really believe in the core players of this team, and that we can get a great deal from teamwork this season.

ESPN has a look at the Eastern Conference teams, and how he expects them to perform. There seems to be a continued negativity towards the team, but this is how I see the questions raised playing out. Heatley and Spezza will rebound from a disappointing playoffs by succeeding (Heatley) and maturing (Spezza) at the Worlds, and will benefit from a more determined and well-rounded coach. Hartsburg has had a lot of work done for him to help keep the dressing room in check, by removing potential sources of conflict, adding character players, and his experience in leading a diverse group of talented but not fully developed players at the World Juniors will only serve to aid him this year. Secondary scoring will come, from giving multiple scoring units a chance to gel and find chemistry, rather than assigning them defensive and checking duties constantly, and putting all the pressure on the constantly reappearing top line. Neither Martin Gerber nor Alex Auld has proven themselves an undisputed NHL starter, but with a better dressing room, each other's character, and a team that will be far more committed to defense, I fully expect that they will both get a shot to finally prove themselves. Hartsburg can and will bring together a remade blueline; the character and defensive skill of Phillips, Volchenkov, and Smith will bond well with the two-way play and maturity of Kuba, the exuberance of Lee, and whoever else manages to nail themselves down in the 6th and/or 7th slot.

Finally, the Ottawa Senators' website has posted just this morning their roster for Training Camp. No surprises in net as all six goalies will be in attendance. The same goes for defense, where the full rookie roster plus some others, expected ones and not, will be in attendance. At forward, the rookie camp will see fewer players join the two Senators' mainstays, though Daugavins, Lawrence, Nikulin, O'Brien, Regin, Zack Smith, Weller, Winchester, and Zubov have shown enough skill and determination to make the final cut.

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